We are so grateful for the opportunity to put Painting Faye Salvez on its feet at Northwestern University. An incredible cast and creative team brought so much honesty and heart to the project, and it was truly an honor to watch them bring this story to life.
Check out some photos of the workshop production by the unparalleled Ying Dai.
We are thrilled to announce the next stage of Painting Faye Salvez’s development! Chicago friends: we are bringing Painting Faye Salvez to Northwestern University for a staged reading this May! More information to come.
A new musical with book, music & lyrics by Rachel Covey is in the works, and an excerpt of the piece was performed by students at Northwestern University last week. More details about the project to come!
Rachel Covey sang alongside Jill Abramovitz, Katerina Papacostas, and others in the annual Women of Note concert which honors the music of female, queer, and trans writers and composers. Ariana DeBose, Jessica Vosk, and dozens of other performers represented the work of Amanda Green, Shaina Taub, Carmel Dean, and many more female composers and female-driven writing teams (including the glorious Zina Goldrich & Marcy Heisler). See the full lineup and read about this incredible series on Playbill.com and Broadwayworld.com!
We’re thrilled to share our interview with The Interval discussing Painting Faye Salvez‘sparticipation in the New York Musical Festival! Read what Kyle Brown (Director) and Rachel Covey (Book, Music & Lyrics) have to say about the piece, inclusivity in American theatre, and the nature of audience engagement.
What are you hoping audiences take away from the show?
Rachel: I want the play to be as centered on this story about this family and this artist as possible, while also raising questions that go beyond them and the specifics of their circumstances. I’m hoping that people leave with a sense of the arc of the story, and also, in the broader sense, the questions that the artist grapples with about truth and responsibility.
Kyle: I think truth and responsibility are really essential right now. I’ve been finding that the stories that focus on people, and their own stories, that are created in the most truthful way, has been really impactful for theatre, and particularly American theatre and the American experience. We’re still shaping that as a country in a really interesting way. I think that this piece in particular is so based in the truth of one family. I’ve suffered a lot of grief, and I think getting to have this experience where we talk about our own truthful experiences, and our relationship to grief, and the responsibility of an artist in representing a very complex subject, is raising a lot of questions for audiences that are really interesting and relevant right now.
What about this development process have you found the most useful or the most interesting?
Kyle: Getting to work with Rachel has been the most amazing thing. She just turned 19, and she was 18 when I met her and when she sent the script to me, so getting to watch her work with the actors and develop her own voice in the room and in the piece has been excruciatingly beautiful to watch. I have such a deep belief in her and want to nurture it. It’s been one of the best experiences in getting to nurture that in and NYMF has allowed us to do that by giving us a forum, and it’s been so amazing.
Rachel: I was going to say something really similar. This piece had existed in my head for so long that having it become a conversation and a collaborative effort, I’ve learned so much and been given so much from that. Watching the actors breathe life into the characters and then ask questions. The other day in rehearsal, someone brought up how they felt about the ending and some questions that they had, and then before I knew it, it was a ten-person discussion. And it wasn’t just discussion of, “How should I act this.” People had feelings and ideas about the piece.
What’s something you think can be done to get different audiences to engage with theatre or get audiences to engage differently?
Kyle: I have a lot of thoughts on this. I think theatre is a very complicated thing, because right now it’s a really exclusive event because it’s live. There’s a lot of controversy that happens around theatre because it’s live and therefore exclusive, so it’s hard to get into. I think for me it’s about making it available to people. I think of Shakespeare in the Park, things like that. Getting our friends to come in and see this [show at NYMF]. My goal in theatre is to make it as accessible as possible, and I think that’s in making pieces that are as accessible as possible—meaning as specific as possible. Not limiting it to the people that we want to come, but actually making art that is as truthful as possible—that is daringly truthful—and just trusting in the fact that audiences will relate to the humanity in that. TV is an easy forum for theatre to be opened up and I think Broadway HD is doing a really beautiful job. I think those National Theatre viewings are something that are allowing audiences to find theatre in a new way and then seek it out. But I think theatre makers still have to really seek out those people and really work. I’ve done theatre in prison, and that was the most impactful thing I’ve ever done.
Rachel: And thinking about that, the funny thing to me about the nature of theatre is that by definition it happens behind closed doors. You cannot distribute theatre the way you distribute film. But it’s also the most relatable art there is. You’re in a room with other people, and that is such an equalizer to me. And what comes to mind in terms of raising that accessibility, besides the obvious like the prices, I think it has to do with the way we talk about the arts, the way we treat them in schools, and the way they’re supported. For me, growing up with theatrical parents and a school with hefty art programs, I never felt like I had to ask permission to get in there. It just felt like something I could dive in and do. And that is not the same everywhere, and that’s not the same for a lot of my peers.
Kyle: I think that’s a great point. We were both raised by parents that work in theatre and are passionate about theatre, so we both have access to theatre. I got to see every production at Trinity Rep multiple times, just because I was a child that grew up at Trinity Rep. So making that accessible in schools, and making Annie Baker, Will Eno, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and the artists that are currently making art available, not just Shakespeare.
Rachel: Also, I think we talk about the arts in a different tone than we talk about other things.
Kyle: It’s so elevated.
Rachel: Yeah, and on one hand it does elevate it to this degree where you feel like it’s this prestigious far away thing, but also I think it’s not encouraged in the same way. I know a lot of kids who had these incredible artistic sides, but we’re really conditioned from a young age that that can be your cute, funny hobby, but when you’re serious in the real world, you don’t talk about it. You don’t even openly support it the way you might any other interest or passion.
Kyle: I think it’s so funny, because the disparity between how hard it is to make a life in the theatre versus how elite it is to see theatre is so disparate. It’s so separate and it makes it a very interesting conversation for how to keep making real art that relates to people who are spending $300 on a ticket. Or who are used to spending $300 on a ticket, because then a $20 ticket all of a sudden means that the caliber is less good.
You are at different points in your careers and in different disciplines, but what’s something that you think would make it easier for you to pursue your creative goals in the way you want to pursue them?
Kyle: The support of non-profit theatres actively investing in young artists, young directors, young playwrights, young stage managers, young music directors. We have an amazing music director, Fernanda [Douglas], and having worked in theatre pretty much all my life, it is mind blowing to me that I just found Fernanda and that I didn’t have access to her or didn’t know the forum in which to reach out to her. There’s not a bigger, more supportive community for the next generation. It’s a lot more associate positions and assistant positions, which can be a career in and of itself.
Rachel: Working backwards from the question, I think the times that I have felt the most confident and empowered in just diving into things were times that I was dealt with in a way that I didn’t feel I needed to ask permission. Times that someone trusted me enough to take command on a project without testing my credentials. I music directed a production my freshman year in college, and I said “I don’t know if I’m qualified for this,” and the team basically said, “We’re all students. We’re all here to learn, and we trust you.” That was a really cool personal growth experience, as well as a technique-based growing experience. So, as many opportunities and safe environments where we can trust new and young artists to take a stab at it, I think that would be the ideal.
Kyle: Particularly for women and people of color. As a woman, I learned from Liesl Tommy. Stop apologizing and believe what you believe. And I think to be wrong is actually okay. And the support of anybody who pushes you to take up that space and actually be wrong [is important]. Because the only way I’ve learned in this process is by stepping on my own toes, being told I’m wrong, and then figuring it out. But as a woman, you’re losing your power immediately by doing that, and that doesn’t help.
Rachel: I find myself doing those things. At one point, I had an opportunity to show a composer I really respect some of my work, and I walked in there and I was like, “I’m not going to apologize. I’m not going to apologize.” And, sure enough, I just got so nervous that what came out of my mouth was just anxieties and apologies. He said, “Stop. I give you permission to call yourself a composer. You are one, so, enough. Call yourself a composer and show me your work.” And that’s something I’ve tried to remember in the rehearsal room. Claiming your voice and calling yourself the director, the writer, the composer, whatever it is, is a really empowering thing.
Beyond being located in America, what does the term “American theatre” mean to you?
Rachel: For me, I think it’s striving for this balance of stories between individuality and universality. The whole American motto about the spirit of the individual and the uniqueness of the individual experience is so crucial to American theatre, but at the same time, it’s the ways that it’s universal while paying respect to that unique experience and recognizing that it’s something that we all have inside of ourselves. I think it’s that balance.
Kyle: I think it’s all about the uniqueness and diversity that happens. The most exciting shows I’ve seen this year are experiences or plays that had nothing to do with my experience. I don’t want to see a play about a white girl who grew up in Brooklyn. I want to see play about someone who moved here from Nigeria. I need to see pieces that keep fueling and informing my view on the world. I think theatre challenges those views, and challenges them aggressively and unapologetically. And I think it’s why theatre can be scary. I think we haven’t completely unearthed what it is to be American, and I think that it’s something we are learning. That is something theatre challenges constantly. Rachel says it so beautifully in this show: “It takes more than one angle to get one point of view.” Because theatre is collaborative, because theatre is alive, all points of view are valid, and that feels very American to me. And the conversation also feels very American to me.
Mimi took to the stage as Louise in the 1961 tour of “Gypsy,” and has since performed on and off-Broadway in plays and musicals alike. Broadway credits include “Carousel,” “The Enchanted,” “Carnival!”, “Man of La Mancha” (in which she originated the role of Antonia), “Seeds in the Wind,” “Cry of the Peacock,” “Fiddler On The Roof,” “Threepenny Opera,” “Teibele and her Demon,” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” She has since added Writer and Lyricist to her many titles, and joined forces with Nancy Ford in writing “Blue Roses,” a musical adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” which premiered at Lyric Stage in 2014.
Sean has performed around the world and back, from Broadway (“Promises Promises,” “Crazy For You,” “Curtains,” and more) to Sydney, Australia (“Cats”, “42nd Street,” and more), to Carnegie Hall (“Bernadette Peters at Carnegie Hall”) and Radio City (“The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at Radio City”). He has done extensive regional work and has developed roles in new works such as “Contact” (dir. Susan Stroman), “Ever After” (Goldrich and Heisler, dir. Kathleen Marshall), “Little Dancer” at the Kennedy Center, and more. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on the “Promises, Promises” cast album, and an Ovation Award for his work in “Kiss Me Kate.” You can also catch him on “Law and Order,” “Sex and the City,” and in Julie Taymor’s “Across The Universe” as well as Susan Stroman’s “The Producers.”
Jennifer took the Broadway stage in 2014 as Gloria in “Rocky,” and has been seen in on and off-Broadway productions such as “The Philanthropist” (Broadway), “Reckless” (Manhattan Theatre Club), “The Stendhal Syndrome” (Primary Stages), “Dutchman” (Cherry Lane Theatre), “Fault Lines” (Cherry Lane Theatre), “Don’t Go Gentle” (MCC Productions), “Into The Woods” (Roundabout Theatre Company), “Of Good Stock” (Manhattan Theatre Club), and, most recently, “Reasons To Be Pretty,” which was a part of the “Reasons” trilogy by MCC Playwright-in-Residence Niel LaBute.
Rozi made her Broadway debut in “Shrek: The Musical” as Young Fiona. She has since been seen in “Mary Poppins” (Broadway), “Bonnie and Clyde” (Broadway), and other exciting new works. She has helped develop the roles of Opal in “Because of Winn Dixie,” Winnie in “Tuck Everlasting,” and Dani in Kooman and Dimond’s “Dani Girl” at the Cherry Lane Theatre and NAMT.
Izzy is known for her work in the original Broadway cast of “Billy Elliot,” and has since performed in works at Signature Theatre, Carnegie Hall, The Met Opera, The New York Theatre Ballet, and Second Stage, New Dramatists, and more venues in and beyond New York City. She’s been seen on Law and Order, Netflix’s “The Get Down,” and most recently, Mythic Bridge’s “Change The Script” PSA. She is currently pursuing a B.F.A in Theatre at The New School for Drama and Performing Arts.
Sam has been seen developing new work with Playwrights Horizons, Ars Nova, The Civilians, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, NAMT, Colt Coeur, New Dramatists, New Georges, The Lark, Pipeline Theatre Company, and the Musical Theatre Factory, among others. Proud AEA member.
Morgan is a freshman at Northwestern University, currently pursuing a degree in Voice Performance from the Bienen School of Music and a certificate in Musical Theatre from the School of Communication. Morgan’s most recent credits were as JD in Arts Alliance Theatre’s production of “Heathers: The Musical,” and as Jon in the Struble Project Series’ production of “Tick, Tick… BOOM!”
Rachel began her career as an actress. At age seven, she played Morgan in Disney’s “Enchanted,” and has continued to work in theatre, film, and television, performing in venues such as Radio City Music Hall, The Actor’s Studio, The Baryshnikov Arts Center and The McCarter Theatre. She has performed her self-authored one-woman play, “Waiting Room,” at Manhattan Repertory Theatre (NYC), The Player’s Theatre (NYC), and Capital Repertory Theatre (Albany, NY). You can also catch her on the most recent season of “What Would You Do?” on ABC! She is thrilled to have her words and music brought to life with the help of this beautiful cast and creative team.
Kyle was the associate director of “Eclipsed” (Broadway and The Public Theater), “Privacy” (The Public Theater), “Kid Victory” (The Vineyard Theatre), and the V-Day Prison Tour of “The Vagina Monologues,” which featured formerly incarcerated women alongside professional actors. She is currently the dramaturge for the Public Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar” at Shakespeare in the park. We’re thrilled to have Kyle on our team, and can’t wait to see what she does with the piece at The New York Musical Festival this July!
Fernanda has music directed productions at the New York International Fringe Festival, the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the Marymount School of NY and Columbia University. She is also the composer of several new works, including “PLATH” and “From Russia, With Love,” both of which have received productions in the past two years. Most recently, she has assisted Broadway music director Carmel Dean on a series of readings, and has become the associate vocal coach at Liz Caplan Vocal Studios.
Keep up with PAINTING FAYE SALVEZ on Facebook and Instagram as we begin rehearsals for the New York Musical Festival this summer!